Former governing People’s Party (PP) has condemned some party members for obtaining a court injunction to stop recent appointments of Uladi Mussa and Kamplepo Kalua.
PP publicity secretary Ken Msonda said in an interview on Friday that the party was shocked that there are some senior officials of the party who were bent on destabilising the party at a time they should have been building it.
National organising secretary Salim Bagus on Wednesday obtained an injunction stopping appointments made by the party president Joyce Banda, currently outside Malawi, of Mussa as an acting president and Kalua as vice-president.
But Msonda said while all citizens have a right to seek legal redress, PP has a principle that no party wrangles would be taken to court before exhausting available mediation channels within the party.
Msonda said: “The differences that have arisen have never been formally discussed at any level within the party. The members that have gone to court have never taken an initiative to put up a formal complaint for a discussion at an executive meeting.
“I expected that as senior members who love the party they should have been working towards destroying it.”
But Bagus in an interview on Friday, laughed off Msonda’s claims, branding them as lies. He denied working towards destabilising the party.
“All we are calling for is respect for our party constitution. These issues of appointing members to party positions started long time ago and we have always been advising the leadership to desist from this,” said Bagus.
The PP national organising secretary said going to court was a last resort, challenging that if the party believes it is clean on these differences, it must go to court, present its arguments and have the injunction vacated.
Bagus said as other members have suggested, a convention is the best solution to resolve all these differences and he supports members that are calling for one.
“Only the convention will give our followers the mandate to choose their leaders. It is the only right forum which can even bring back senior members we lost along the way. Let us give mandate to the people as opposed to this sickening handpicking,” he said.
Caesar Fatch, who withdrew his candidature to challenge Joyce Banda when PP went to its first convention in August 2012 to choose a presidential candidate for the May 2014 polls, said in an interview yesterday that he was being vindicated.
Fatch, a Blantyre-based businessperson who still holds ambitions to challenge Banda at the party’s convention, was the first to call for the party convention last week.
In the yesterday’s interview, Fatch said party officials must make sacrifices to contribute towards the convention if the party has no resources.
He said the only way to rejuvenate the party and prepare well for the 2019 polls was to call for a convention and fill up all vacant positions.
Asked on the increasing calls for a convention, Msonda said the party was receiving views from its followers and would act on that.
“If the majority feels that is the way to go, who are we to say no. The concern we raised was about funds. But if members can come together to mobilise finances, and the majority agree that we go to an early convention, we would have no reason to say no,” said Msonda.
But Ralph Jooma, who is vice-president (finance and administration) said in an interview last week that much as he supported the idea for an early convention, there is nothing illegal about the recent appointments.
Banda, constantly defended by her party’s top officials that she was in control although she remained outside Malawi after she lost the presidency to Peter Mutharika in the May 2014 polls, apparently succumbed to pressure and appointed Uladi Mussa on December 31 2015 to act in her position.
Three days later she appointed Rumphi East parliamentarian Kalua as third vice-president responsible for operations, replacing Harry Mkandawire who resigned in 2014.
A political scientist at University of Malawi’s Chancellor College Boniface Dulani told our sister paper The Nation earlier that the problem with all parties in Malawi is that they come up with constitutions just for the purposes of registration of their parties.
Banda has on several occasions said she fears to face persecution if she returns to Malawi and her husband once issued a letter to the international community about her safety and that of her family if she returns to Malawi.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government has openly connected her to Cashgate, the massive plunder of public funds by public officers who connived with PP politicians in excess of K20 billion, and declared they want her back to answer to this.
Banda, who took over power after the death of her boss, the late Bingu wa Mutharika, only ruled for two years before Bingu’s brother, Peter Mutharika, challenged and defeated her on ballot in the May 20 2014 polls.
She came third in the presidential race which saw Malawi Congress Party’s Lazarus Chakwera, a new comer on the political scene, coming second.